What is the Difference Between Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis

The main difference between iontophoresis and sonophoresis is that iontophoresis relies on an electric current to drive ions through the skin, whereas sonophoresis uses ultrasound waves to enhance the skin’s permeability for the delivery of substances.

Iontophoresis and sonophoresis are non-invasive techniques employed for transdermal drug delivery. Both methods offer controlled and targeted delivery, reducing systemic side effects.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Iontophoresis 
      – Definition, Features, Applications
2. What is Sonophoresis
      – Definition, Features, Applications 
3. Similarities Between Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis
      – Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Iontophoresis, Sonophoresis

Difference Between Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis - Comparison Summary

What is Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis is a medical technique that involves the use of a mild electric current to deliver medication through the skin. This non-invasive method is commonly employed in the treatment of various conditions, particularly hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and certain inflammatory disorders.

In the context of hyperhidrosis, iontophoresis offers a targeted approach to address the overactivity of sweat glands. During the procedure, a patient places affected body parts, typically hands or feet, in trays filled with water. Electrodes connected to a low-voltage iontophoresis device are immersed in the water, and a gentle electric current is applied. The electric current facilitates the penetration of ions, typically anticholinergic medications or tap water ions, through the skin’s outer layer, affecting the function of sweat glands.

Differentiate Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis

This technique is considered safe and generally well-tolerated, making it a preferred choice for managing localized hyperhidrosis without resorting to more invasive interventions. Regular sessions are often necessary to maintain the desired results.

Beyond hyperhidrosis, iontophoresis has found applications in delivering medications for various musculoskeletal and dermatological conditions. For instance, it can be used to administer anti-inflammatory drugs for conditions like tendonitis or arthritis. The controlled and localized drug delivery achieved through iontophoresis minimizes systemic side effects that may occur with oral medications.

What is Sonophoresis

Sonophoresis, assisted drug delivery, is a non-invasive technique that employs ultrasound waves to enhance the transdermal absorption of therapeutic agents. This innovative approach has gained prominence in the fields of medicine and skincare, offering a promising alternative to traditional drug delivery methods.

The process involves the application of low-frequency ultrasound waves to the skin, creating transient micropores in the stratum corneum—the outermost layer of the epidermis. These microchannels enable increased permeability, allowing for enhanced penetration of topical substances such as drugs, vitamins, or skincare formulations.

Iontophoresis vs Sonophoresis

One of the key advantages of sonophoresis lies in its ability to improve the bioavailability of drugs. By overcoming the skin’s natural barrier, it facilitates the delivery of therapeutic compounds directly to target tissues, minimizing systemic side effects and optimizing treatment efficacy. This makes sonophoresis particularly relevant in scenarios where precise drug delivery is crucial, such as in pain management or localized skin conditions.

In skincare, sonophoresis has found application in enhancing the absorption of cosmetic formulations. The technique can improve the delivery of active ingredients like antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid, promoting better skin hydration, firmness, and overall health. This non-invasive nature also appeals to individuals seeking advanced skincare without resorting to invasive procedures.

Similarities Between Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis

  • Iontophoresis and sonophoresis are both non-invasive drug delivery techniques used in medicine.
  • By delivering substances directly to the targeted area, both techniques aim to minimize systemic side effects that may occur with oral or systemic administration.

Difference Between Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis


Iontophoresis is a non-invasive drug delivery method that involves the application of a low electrical current to drive charged ions through the skin. Sonophoresis, on the other hand, is a non-invasive drug delivery that relies on ultrasonic waves to enhance the permeability of the skin, allowing for increased absorption of topical substances without the need for electrical currents.


While iontophoresis uses an electric current as the primary energy source to drive ions through the skin, sonophoresis uses ultrasonic energy in the form of sound waves to enhance skin permeability.


Iontophoresis is commonly employed for the localized treatment of conditions like hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) or localized pain management. Sonophoresis is widely used in cosmetic and therapeutic applications, such as enhancing the delivery of skin care products or promoting transdermal drug delivery.

FAQ: Iontophoresis and Sonophoresis

What is iontophoresis also known as?

Iontophoresis is also known as electron repulsion.

What are the advantages of iontophoresis?

Iontophoresis is advantageous due to its non-invasive nature, allowing precise and controlled drug delivery without the need for injections. This method minimizes systemic side effects, is versatile in applications, and provides a convenient option for transdermal drug administration.

What are the side effects of iontophoresis?

Side effects of iontophoresis may include skin irritation, dryness, and blistering.


Iontophoresis and sonophoresis are non-invasive techniques for transdermal drug delivery. While iontophoresis utilizes electric currents to facilitate substance movement, sonophoresis employs ultrasound waves. Thus, this is the main difference between iontophoresis and sonophoresis.


1. “Sonophoresis-Mechanisms and Application.” PubMed Central.
2. “Iontophoresis.” Derm Net.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Close-up of Woman Having Ultrasonic Skin Treatment in Salon” (CC0) via Pexels
2. “Iontophoresis device” By Mindfulpersian – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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